DETROIT TRANSPORTATION (SUBURBS)
Official SMART Web site.
Until 1922, when the Department of Street Railways (DSR) assumed operation of the streetcar lines within the city, Detroit United Railway (DUR) had operated all the area's electric railways. Since then, separate transit systems have served the city and suburbs. The suburban bus system is now known as SMART (Suburban Mobility Authority for Regional Transportation).
Until 1989, the suburban bus system was known as the Southeastern Michigan Transportation Authority (SEMTA). SEMTA was approved by the state of Michigan in 1967, and over the next several years acquired the four private bus companies serving Detroit's suburbs. Proposals have existed to combine the city and suburban systems into a single system, but none of these proposals was ever accepted. SMART continues to operate bus routes between the suburbs and downtown Detroit, but those routes generally do not carry local passengers within the city limits.
Between 1974 and 1983, SEMTA contracted with the Grand Trunk Western Railroad to continue operation of the commuter trains between Detroit and Pontiac. But after those trains were discontinued in 1983, suburban Detroit was left without any local rail transportation.
In 2018, SMART introduced the FAST (Frequent Affordable Safe Transit) bus service along the Michigan and Woodward and Gratiot corridors, to and from downtown Detroit. And the traditional main local routes were discontinued within the city, except during rush hours.
Many of today's bus routes in Detroit's suburbs have histories which can be traced back to electric interurban trains.
Buses have operated in the Detroit area since 1921, and interurban trains operated in the area until 1934.
SMART presently has three operating divisions, which basically evolved from the three largest private bus companies which eventually became SMART predecessor SEMTA.
Detroit Transit History
Michigan Transit Museum
Some information for this page is from the four volumes of "When Eastern Michigan Rode The Rails", by Jack E. Schramm, William H. Henning, and Richard R. Andrews. Additional information is from features in various issues of the magazine "Motor Coach Age", also written by Jack E. Schramm.
Chicago Transit & Railfan Web Site